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This phenomenon of positive thinking and the placebo is known as the placebo effect. Placebos are substances containing no form of medication whatsoever. A patient who takes a placebo thinks they are going to improve because they think the placebo is a form of medication, when in reality it is not.
Although the underlying mechanisms is still not completely known, there are several general proposed reasons of how a placebo and positive thinking can induce speedy recovery.
One suggested theory is called the psychological theory, or rather "it's all in one's mind." This theory suggests that rather then any significant change in brain chemistry, improvement in the patient is largely due to the expectation and belief that he/she is going to improve. (5). In turn, this expectation and hoping is what induces the natural healing of the body to occur and speed up. So instead of having drugs in our body to induce healing, this theory suggests that thinking positive can do the same thing by affecting an individuals body chemistry or by activating one of the body's natural defense mechanisms to speed up recovery.
For example, in our nervous system, there are pain-inhibiting compounds called eukephalins, which can be induced to work only if the patient taking the placebo believes that it will. In this way, rather then taking the alternative drug opioid to work as the eukephalin, the placebo and patient can work together to do the same thing and use the more natural alternative. (3).
Another example of the psychological theory is seen in antidepressants. There as been much research shown lately that antidepressants are not effective by the medication but by the placebo effect of treatment. "So if a patient takes a pill that causes side effects, he or she feels better because they believe they have been given an actual antidepressant and that the pill must be workingthe study suggests that antidepressants might function as active placebos, in which the side effects amplify the placebo effect by convincing patients of that they were receiving a potent drug." (1). So rather then healing because of the working of the antidepressant, patients are said to heal because they think and expect to heal.
Another suggested theory is called the process of treatment theory. The way a placebo is administered effects how fast the patient will heal. For example, if the patient is given a placebo with a lot of care, love, hope and positive energy, this attention affects the mind of the patient and can induce the body to release certain hormones which go and effect the healing process through the body chemistry. (5). So rather then suggesting that the placebo effect is due to the patients' expectation in improving, this theory suggests that the placebo effect on an individual is due to the way the placebo is given and in this way enables to natural body mechanism in our body to work.
Others suggest that the placebo and the placebo and the placebo effect has no effect at all and rather that the body is just naturally healing itself. This theory has not been popular however, and there has been much evidence supporting the power of the state of our mind and our body. (5).
There has been many studies done about the state of mind and the effects of the body. One example of such kind of study has been done on the human aura. What exactly is the human aura? A human aura is a circle of energy that is surrounding our bodies. This circle of energy or bio-energy field around a human is never constant and is constantly changing and is different in color, shape and size for each person. By studying the bio-energy fields surrounding our bodies, we can deduce many conclusions about how our mind-body works. There is enough information in the individual aura to tell this kind of information. The Kirlian effect devices are scientific tools used in reading the human aura. Recent research done with the Kirlian effect devices have shown that the information in the aura surrounding each of the ten fingers is enough information to know how the whole entire body was working. (1). Isn't that simply amazing?
So how is this aura show evidence of how the placebo effect works? A recent experiment was done in trying to see how the aura of the middle finger was related to the state of the mind and the body. Experiments showed that with the mind in deep concentration of an object or in meditation, the aura increased in size and smoothness. In other words, the aura, with increased concentration, got bigger and more connected. It did not have as many gaps in it. The size and smoothness of the aura indicated that the body organs related to that aura increased in energy and indicated that the mind and body had a more "harmonious" (1) way of functioning. This increase in aura is evidence that the state of mind greatly influences the size of the aura
The placebo effect is all about the state of mind. These aura experiments show that indeed the placebo with a positive state of mind can effect the aura of our bodies in a positive way and thus induce natural mechanisms in our body to heal itself faster. The exact mechanisms of how the placebo does this in certain circumstances is still not completely known.
2)Conscious Control of human bioenergy field, By studying the human bioenergy field through Kirlian effect devices, we can find out a lot about how our mind-body works.
3)Mind/Brain/Behavior THE PLEASING PLACEBO, Explains the placebo effect through the theory of healing is believing
4)Mind, Medicine, and the Placebo effect, "John Davidson suggests that turning the conventional model upside down (our brain) provides a far more satisfying framework for understanding our mind-body - as a hierarchically structured energy system."
5)The Placebo effect, This is an article explaining the placebo effect and suggesting recent theories that explain it.
6)Prediction of Heart Problems by Kirlian Photography, Explains how Kirlian effect devices works in reading our body
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